Women's Education in Rural India
Inadequate or outright lack of education in rural parts of India makes socio-economic changes nearly impossible, especially providing challenges for women.
Literacy, among many other basic skills that are taught throughout education at the elementary level, are pivotal in the lowering of poverty rates, child mortality, and raising of fertility rates, among others. Generally, rural areas, defined as having low population, density, and buildings, understandably also have less funding for education.
Lack of teachers, especially well trained ones, poor infrastructure of schools, and poor quality of education anywhere can keep citizens cemented in the same social class, unable to move up in society. Furthermore, if education is unfairly distributed to men rather than women, gender roles in places such as in the workforce, in politics, and in the home can be discriminatory.
Specifically in India, according to the National Sample Survey at Observer Research Foundation’s India Data Labs, in 2017-18, around 64.9% of women are literate, as 81.5% of men are literate. While this is better than the 31.7% literacy rate women had in 1987-88, it is still a gap of around 17%, and marginally increased when delving into more rural areas of the nation.
Not only receiving education, but quality education could tremendously help in educating women to help promote more equality throughout the country.
Generally, if a mother has to work, then the eldest daughter would assume the responsibilities of the mother to take care of the younger children and housework, but this often neglects the fact of going to school during that period. Currently, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is working toward relieving daughters of the responsibilities of the mother in this situation to allow for them to attend school, which further promotes a higher education of learning for these young women.
Especially in rural areas in India, many live without internet. The current COVID-19 pandemic did not aid in the positive trend that education was going for in India, and has been crippled due to the massive outbreak and deaths occurring. With employment and education halted, as well as parents and educators being put into different situations, children and students have suffered tremendously. Not only this, but closure of schools means that nutrition through mid-day meals provided by the Government will no longer be available, which could negatively impact any student’s performance in their studies.
While many impacts have been negative, some point towards the other end. In general, those who have access to any type of online learning are becoming proficient at it, learning digital literacy, online communication, and more at a young age. While not all rural students may be able to, online learning is effective in connecting students in a pandemic to many others around the world.
Looking forward, to fix the issue of women’s education in villages or other rural areas, governmental action may be needed. Quality education at all levels, promotion of women in schooling, and better access to education in an online environment due to the restrictions of COVID-19 can all help to increase literacy rates. As mentioned previously, lowering the educational gap of around 17% between genders can greatly improve women’s roles in employment and government, offering more opportunities and better educated women in society.